What’s a Johnson Rod?!!

Johnson Rod? What’s a Johnson Rod?!! Don’t get lost in translation when talking to a mechanic.

Of course, in this case, there’s no such thing as a Johnson Rod, but if you ever want to have an informed conversation with a mechanic, or if you simply need to let your Goodwrench technician know what’s happening in your vehicle, we’ve compiled a list of lingo that you might find useful.


Brake fade: the stopping distance of your vehicle seems to increase, causing longer braking distance, similar to braking at high speeds. This can occur after repeated application of your brakes over a short period of time (i.e. during city driving).

Low brake pedal: the brake pedal has to be pushed unusually far to engage the brakes.

Brake pedal pulsation: the brake pedal fluctuates or vibrates while the brakes are applied.

Grabs: the vehicle has a tendency to move right or left when the brakes are applied. Or, the brakes engage suddenly when applying steady pressure to the brake pedal.


Cuts out: a temporary complete loss of power. Or, the engine quits at irregular intervals. This may occur repeatedly or intermittently, usually under heavy acceleration.

Detonation: mild to severe pings, usually worse under acceleration. It sounds like popcorn popping.

Dieseling: the engine runs after the ignition switch is turned off.

Hesitation: a momentary lack of response as the accelerator is pressed. This can occur at any speed. Usually it’s most severe when starting from a complete stop and may cause the engine to stall.

Miss: a pulsation or jerking that changes with the engine speed. Or, the exhaust has a steady spitting sound at idle or low speeds.

Rough idle: the engine runs unevenly at idle. The vehicle may also shake.

Sluggish: the engine delivers limited power under a load or at high speeds. Or, the vehicle won’t accelerate as fast as normal. Or, the engine loses power going up hills.

Spongy: only a small increase in speed occurs when the accelerator is pushed down.

Stall: the engine stops running or dies out. This may occur at idle or while driving.

Surge: the vehicle speeds up and slows down with no change on the accelerator pedal. This can occur at any speed.

Steering & Handling

Bottoming: the suspension moves to an extreme end of travel and hits the compression bumpers. It feels like a heavy thud.

Excessive play: the steering wheel must be turned unusually far before the vehicle responds.

Hard steering: the vehicle is difficult to steer, especially during parking situations or when it’s first started.

Pulls: the vehicle moves to one side when the grip or the steering wheel is loosened.

Shimmy: a rapid side-to-side motion of both the front wheels, which is felt in the steering wheel.

Sway or Pitching: a mushy or spongy ride. Or the vehicle takes a long time to recover from bumps in the road.

Vibration: the vehicle shakes.

Wanders: the vehicle meanders, requiring frequent steering adjustments to maintain direction.

Odours & Stains

Antifreeze or coolant leak: A sweet odour can be accompanied by steam from under the hood. Yellow, green, or orange stains appear that are lighter and thinner than oil.

Axle leaks: black stains with a heavy, thick consistency appear.

Burning oil: a thick, heavy odour, sometimes accompanied by bluish smoke from under the hood or from the exhaust.

Crankcase, oil, power-steering fluid leaks: brownish stains appear.

Electrical short: gives off an acrid odour, like burnt toast.

Rich fuel mixture: a heavy sulphur odour, like rotten eggs.

Overheated brakes or clutch: a burning rubber odour.

Overheating: a hot, metallic odour can be accompanied by an antifreeze or coolant odour.

Transmission oil leaks: reddish stains appear.


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